Bengaluru: At a time when the JD(S)-Congress government in Karnataka seems to be on shaky grounds and the Congress itself seems to be racked by infighting, senior leader Roshan Baig has been issued a show-cause notice for calling party general secretary K.C. Venugopal a “buffoon”.
Speaking to ThePrint, Baig said his outburst was a way to let the Congress high command know that he was extremely upset at being sidelined, and for the way Venugopal had been handling party affairs.
In a matter of hours, the Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee sent Baig a notice, asking him to explain why disciplinary action should not be taken against him.
Baig believes Venugopal was behind the decisions that led to the Congress performing badly in the 2018 assembly elections, and possibly the parliamentary elections too, the results of which are to be declared on 23 May.
He also hit out at party leaders in Karnataka, calling them the reason behind the failure of the coalition government with the JD(S).
“I called him a buffoon because of the way he managed the previous assembly and now parliamentary elections,” said Baig, who was denied a Lok Sabha ticket at the last minute.
“I am obviously upset that I was not given a ticket. Having represented the Congress in the assembly seven times and having grown in the party, I proved my worth and ensured that candidates get a good lead. I am hurt.”
Baig, who is known to be close to both Congress president Rahul Gandhi and JD(S) chief and former prime minister H.D. Deve Gowda, was also hoping to be given the deputy chief minister’s post when the coalition was formed — a position that went to G. Parameshwara.
He also alleged that Lok Sabha tickets were “bought” and it all happened under the noses of senior Congress leaders.
“The exit poll results have confirmed my worst fears. All along, I expected the NDA to perform better. I am not shocked by the results. I blame the Congress legislature party leader Siddaramaiah and the immature president of the KPCC, Dinesh Gundu Rao, who were not able to handle the entire campaign properly. They were lazy, Siddaramaiah was on his own ego trip, Venugopal is a buffoon who is far removed from ground realities,” Baig said.
Soon after Baig’s explosive statement, Congress leaders went into a huddle to try and bring the situation under control. Several leaders felt that Baig’s statement was a fallout of being ignored during the elections.
Gundu Rao said it was appalling that a leader of Baig’s stature had made such statements.
“It is pure political opportunism and leaders should not indulge in such gimmicks. We will take action at the appropriate time,” he told ThePrint.
Soon after, the KPCC issued the show-cause notice to Baig. “Through these statements of yours, which have caused embarrassment to the party, and your public airing of dissent to the press are against the beliefs of the party. This has affected the party’s standing… Since this act is against the interests of the party, it is being viewed seriously,” read the notice.
A controversial leader
This is not the first time that Baig has raked up a controversy. In 2017, Baig had hurled Tamil expletives at PM Narendra Modi. Speaking in his constituency Shivajinagar, in slang Tamil, Baig had referred to Modi’s ‘Mann Ki Baat’ radio programme as nothing but a bluff.
Baig has not spared BJP’s state chief Yeddyurappa either. In the same speech in Shivajinagar, he said: “Siddaramaiah, when he was chief minister, had implemented several projects. But Yeddyurappa, when he was CM, only looked at Shobha.” The reference was to the close relationship shared by Yeddyurappa and another senior BJP leader and MP Shobha Karandlaje.
An infuriated Yeddyurappa hit back at Baig, asking then CM Siddaramaiah to remove him from the cabinet.